How do you do it?
It’s a simple question that moms seek out with each other, expecting a likewise simple answer – a how-to, bullet point list. My response to the question is simple; I don’t give 100% to anything in my life.
My first realization of this parenting fact of life was when I returned to work after having my first child. My fingers typed steadily as I responded to email, my hands-free bra let the milk drip into the bottles as my pump chugged away, my eyes shifted from the next email to the photo of my infant daughter on my desk. This was my new norm; a messy collision of motherhood and working outside the home. Here I was, a mom who desperately wanted to be a good mother and excel in my field of work, but I couldn’t give 100% to either.
I float along a spectrum between kids, husband, personal, work, home; never feeling like I am really giving 100% to any area. I’m never completely satisfied with my performance in any direction. I live in a perpetual state of feeling guilty and self-doubt about the job I am doing.
I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids.
I’m not a good enough worker.
I don’t have sex with my husband enough.
My house is a disaster.
I don’t like that I can’t give 100% to everything but I’ve learned to accept it. I’ve also learned to simplify my life. While I can’t give 100% in any direction, I can give my best in that moment. I asked for a flexible work schedule so that I could have more time with my kids when my workload was slow. I exchange frozen meals with other moms to help with meal planning. I host parties in our home so I have a reason to deep clean. My husband is my partner in parenting and running the household; he knows how to run the dishwasher, and which drawers hold the children’s clothes. We have a system and we rarely divert from it; we divide and conquer.
Each day I float with my head above water and I’m just one current or sick child away from being pulled under water. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Motherhood has been everything and nothing I expected. Working outside the home is empowering and defeating all at the same time. I teach myself to recognize the opportunities I have today, and to give my best in that moment even if I’m not giving 100% in those other areas at the time.
The other day, I struggled to complete a spreadsheet while working from home. My kids sat watching Reading Rainbow all afternoon so I could finish my work. That night I overcompensated with a dance party and reading all of their library books. That’s simply what we do as moms, we give until we can’t give anymore. As I lay in my daughter’s bed holding her while she fell asleep, I choked up the words, “I hope you think I’m a good mom.” She whispered in my ear, “I do.” I shifted so she wouldn’t feel my salty tears drip on her arm.
Saying that I can’t give 100% to anything in my life isn’t something I’m embarrassed about; it is my realization that balance isn’t simple. I say no to many things, and yes to the people and events in my life that really matter, but it is still hard. As a mom, I can’t give 100% to everything but it is still possible to be a good mom, maybe even a really great one.
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This post was written by Alice Seuffert exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.